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Microsoft Unwraps Origami

Hannover, Germany — Microsoft last week released the reference design for its Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC), formerly known as Origami.

The UMPC was introduced at the CeBIT technology show here on March 9 after weeks of speculation as to exactly what Microsoft had up its sleeve. While the UMPC was thought to be an iPod-killer-type product, the end result is something looks like a Tablet PC but has all the functionality of an ultra-portable notebook computer.

The unit weighs less than 2 pounds, is 1-inch thick and is centered on a 7-inch touch display. It is intended for consumer, not business, customers

“As people use PCs to stay in touch, work together, manage music, store pictures and build customer relationships, they need the freedom and flexibility that smaller, more lightweight PC designs such as the UMPC offer,” said Bill Mitchell, VP, Windows mobile platforms division.

Microsoft said its reference design has been picked up by several manufacturers, including Samsung, which will ship its unit during the second quarter. Pricing will depend upon the vendor’s final configuration, but should fall between $599 and $999, Microsoft executives said at CeBIT. Microsoft said each vendor will name its device accordingly, but they will all fall into the UMPC category.

The device will feature Windows XP Tablet PC and can be built with a variety of Intel mobile processors and have a hard drive between 30GB to 60GB. Since on-the-go connectivity is a primary feature of the UMPC the units can connect to the Web through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet, and some feature wide-area networking.

The UMPC comes with Microsoft’s Touch Pack touch-screen software allowing the consumer to use the device without a keyboard, although the software can create a touch-screen keyboard on the display for the user.